Sunday, May 2, 2010

Ramps! (Edible Native Mountain Leek)

What's that floatin' in my zodiac glasses, you ask?!? It's the most coveted, prized, celebrated, and hidden native onion plant of the Appalachian Mountains! Technically it's actually a leek, but my gawd it doesn't taste like one - it's a pungent, savory, delicious flavor that may just blow all other onions out the water. When I found these ramps being sold on the side of the road on HWY 209 (Duckett's down in Crabtree) I was ecstatic, because I had not yet found any growing in my little forest -
I was told they need shade but also a slightly open area to propagate, so i walked around till I intuitively felt I had hit good spots under a canopy of trees but with plenty space to grow.
The soil was dark under the leaves, rich, and fluffy - I dug a hole a couple inches down (4 inches or so) and placed 3 bulbs together in each hole. (You can place each one separately also.)

I chose spots where many other native plants are already thriving - this is a good way to know that the soil is right for the ramps.
The most fun part was when I bought these on the roadside the local people who ran the produce place told me "Nobody ever tells anyone else where their ramp patch is, so if you plant these don't ever tell anyone where you planted them..."

I won't tell. But next year when they grow if ya'll ask me for some I will definitely share! :)


Panne said...

if you plant them one to a hole with 3-4 inch spacing they will reproduce faster. your soil looks fabulous so they may grow ok with more than one, but may end up stunted due to competition.

they go well with fiddle heads.

Leslie's Gone Oko said...

Hey Panne!

After I planted them I read that planting them alone was better - so I think I will place a few more ramp bulbs randomly out there.
I read too, if you only had a little bit of space you can put 3-5 of them in a hole ... but at the moment I am not lacking space. :)

I will look for the fiddle heads - which actually are all over the place in the woods here. I have fiddle heads like some people have grass.

Lou Cheese said...

Ramps are real big in Wisconsin, many of the vendors at the farmer's market sell them. Right now potatoes are in abundance and greenhouse tomatoes are hitting the scene. I was thinking about doing up some ramps & potatoes since the flavors seem complimentary, or making some spaghetti sauce with them since that would seem like a good combination as well. Now that I think about it, one could grind them up and make either bread or pasta with them too.

Shallots are also a good onion alternative with a hint of garlic in them, but I don't know what areas they are native to.

Lou Cheese said...

And I almost forgot-here's a little Kansas farmer trick for you-after you dig the hole but before you put the plant in it, soak the hole with water. It encourages deep root growth.

Leslie's Gone Oko said...

Mr Lou Cheese!!!

I have missed you so much, and your stories of Kansas and Wisconsin...

Ramps would go great with potatoes, I have put them chopped up raw in egg salad, and cooked them with my scrambled eggs, & tossed them with veggies and pasta. My cousin said she made Buffalo Burgers with ramps mixed in and it was delicious.
It's such a big deal here they have all kinds of festivals for it - just like how in Louisiana they have festivals for strawberries and Nutra Rats!! OI!

I have heard funny stories that locally here if your child eats a bunch of ramps and smells bad, you are not allowed to send them to school the next day - school policy!

PS- i love shallots/ green onions too... if you stick the roots back in the ground they grow a new one!